TRICOR CEO quits; sees privatizing of prison food service

Patricia Weiland will retire Feb. 8 as CEO of the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction, TRICOR, an organization that provides jobs for inmates and subsequently sells the goods produced by the inmates, according to a news release.

Further, from The Tennessean:

Although a news release about her retirement didn’t note specific reasons for the timing, Weiland clearly blames state lawmakers for her departure.

“Despite our many accomplishments and contributions to the taxpayers, I am compelled to do this because the recent legislative hearings have been used to lead an orchestrated campaign to misrepresent facts surrounding our audit and TRICOR as well as a personal character attack on me by some members of the general assembly,” Weiland wrote in the letter, dated Tuesday.

“After both hearings one can only conclude that select legislators are building a case in support of privatizing corrections food service to which they fear TRICOR may stand in the way.”

Weiland is referring to an audit released by the Tennessee comptroller last fall. The audit criticized numerous aspects of TRICOR leadership, especially its handling of the prison food program known as Cook Chill. The audit noted that TRICOR and the Tennessee Department of Correction never had a contract for the multimillion-dollar program, leading TRICOR to operate the program at a $4 million deficit.

…After a heated legislative hearing earlier this month, state Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, essentially called on Weiland to resign.

“I don’t have any confidence in her ability to clean up this problem that has been created under her watch,” Yager said.

Weiland brushed off the comment when asked about it after the hearing, but continued her offensive on lawmakers in her retirement letter.

“I am being retaliated against for information that was presented in the audit response and shared with select legislators. I will not subject myself to further hearings where legislators are exercising an abuse of power in a public forum to intimidate me and malign my reputation, the reputation of the board of directors and that of TRICOR.”